The latest reviews and mentions of Tachyon titles and authors from around the web.
Jeff VanderMeer (photo: Kyle Cassidy), Ellen Datlow, Michael Swanwick (Beth Gwynn), and Susan Palwick
In his TOR.COM article Remade Bodies and Surreal Spaces: Where to Start With the Work of Jeff VanderMeer, Tobias Carroll discusses THE THIRD BEAR.
THE THIRD BEAR, VanderMeer’s 2010 short story collection, offers a fine survey of the many sides of his fiction. In some cases, that means a side of his work that his novels haven’t yet explored: “Finding Sonoria,” about a detective hired to locate a possibly imaginary country, and “Errata,” a foray into experimental narratives, obsession, and conspiracies, recall the metafictional and metaphysical pulp fiction of Brian Evenson.
Readers of VanderMeer’s longer work will find strange echoes of some of his novels here, as well. “The Situation,” about dangerous office politics in a company dedicated to bizarre genetic experiments, reads like a precursor to some of the themes and settings that VanderMeer would develop in BORNE. (Impossibly huge, existentially menacing bears show up in a couple of places in the collection, in fact.) And there’s also “The Quickening,” in which arguably the least threatening animal imaginable–a pet rabbit–accumulates a dense air of mystery and menace.
Queen of the horror anthology Datlow follows up DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR (2010) with this 2005–15 compendium, which delightfully showcases the modern breadth of horror, from psychologically chilling to all-out terrorizing. A perfect discovery tool.
Michael Swanwick is one of the most elegant and consistently satisfying short story writers working today, and this latest collection is everything you might expect. Darger and Surplus put in an appearance, as do AIs and time travellers and rogues and more. A daring woman enters hell to bring her father back, only to find that hell is nothing like she had imagined. Time travellers from pre-history are having a party to welcome the end of time. An intelligent spacesuit tells of an encounter with centipede-like aliens. And fairy tale characters tell us why they prefer to remain in a book. There are 17 stories here, wildly different in subject but all alike in their invention and wit.
I enjoyed that both Niff and Seamus tried to rationalize the fantastic of Arthur’s Seat, but from different viewpoints (optimist and cynic). Was that a conscious choice from the beginning, or did it develop over the execution of the story?
It grew out of their characters. Niff desperately wants to leave and Seamus is determined to stay, so their different interpretations arise from that.
I enjoyed the duplicitous nature of authority in Seamus, a sheen that hid his own weirdness and subterfuge on gaining Niff’s trust. I’ve read about those attempts in works on predators of various kinds. Do you think there is a clear link between authority and the need to build trust through lies?
I think there’s a clear link between deceit and the need to build trust through lies. Seamus isn’t acting in an official capacity here; he’s just pretending to. He’s doing this on his own time. His desire to protect Niff is real, but his motivations are personal and might draw scrutiny from his superiors. Certainly anything like objectivity is compromised. I see Seamus as a very private person, someone who usually plays things close to the chest. I doubt he’s opened up to anyone else the way he has to Niff, and I’m not sure he’d have talked to her so freely if he didn’t already know, on a gut level, that she’d be gone soon. He’s having the conversation he wasn’t able to have with his daughter.
It may be worth mentioning here that the idea from the story came from a real incident. After the 1988 World Fantasy Convention in London, I took the train up to Edinburgh, which is one of my favorite cities, and stayed there for a week. One day I was hiking by myself on Arthur’s Seat and heard someone ask, “Are you all right?” When I turned, I found a cop next to me. He and his partner patrolled the base of the park, and when they saw a woman alone, he left the patrol car to climb up and assess the situation. He stayed with me, chatting pleasantly, until we met another hiking party. I don’t know if there’d just been an assault on Arthur’s Seat or if this was standard procedure, but he clearly didn’t like my being up there by myself.
Cover by Reiko Murakami
by SUSAN PALWICK
“Are you all right?”
The voice, sharp and worried, shot out of the pocket of shadow to her left. Startled, she turned and found herself blinking at a cop, one of the ones who patrolled the park on foot. In the last light of dusk, she could just make out his half-frown, his badge, the hand resting on a nightstick. He reminded her of her father.
She shivered and pulled her sweatshirt more tightly around her. She should have brought warmer clothing, but she wasn’t going to be here long. “I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” Her father would have said she was being rude, and foolish beside: You didn’t talk back to cops, especially in foreign countries. She didn’t care. Cops were cops.
“It’s getting dark. Where are you going?”
None of your fucking business. Even she knew better than to say that. Anyway, couldn’t he figure it out? She didn’t answer, just gestured with her chin. When she glanced at the top of Arthur’s Seat now, she couldn’t make out the glowing lights she’d seen before. She wondered if the cop would have been able to see them. Only the Chosen saw them, supposedly. That was why the rest of the world thought they were crazy.
She hoped she hadn’t missed her chance.
For more info about THE THIRD BEAR, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Jacob McMurray
For more info NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Nihil
Design by Elizabeth Story
For more info about DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Ann Monn
For more information on NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story
For more info on THE FATE OF MICE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Ann Monn